Jackie Bascom has lived with diabetes for years, and one common problem she said she had was finding comfortable shoes for her feet. She found a pair of sneakers she said were a perfect fit at a clothing giveaway Eddie Jackson helped sponsor.
“Thank the Lord,” she said raising her hands to the sky. “I don’t take this lightly. Thank God.”
Eddie Jackson, cofounder of Operation Give Back, which sponsored the event, said Bascom’s reaction is typical of what inspired him to help establish the nonprofit organization.
The community service he conducts is what he called a divine inspiration from years ago.
Bascom was one of more than 50 city residents who visited a small space in the Far Rockaway Community Room and received free clothing. Her shoes were among more than 300 garments Jackson, 48, and his family gathered in two months and gave away to residents in the Far Rockaway area. There were no item restrictions for what anyone could take, as Jackson told each per son to “shop until you drop for free.”
Jackson promoted the event himself by passing out fliers in community centers and housing projects along through word of mouth. Jackson said his work as an events organizer helped him promote the clothing drive.
His footwork is an immediate response to a crucial need for aid in the community, he said.
“You have organizations out here, but they don’t really reach out to the grassroots,” he said. But Operation Give Back was founded to quickly address community needs ranging from educational to financial, unlike organizations that must undergo bureaucratic processes for their programs, Jackson said.
Although Jackson has volunteered for more than a decade, he organized his first community event in August 2003 that was part celebration for his mother’s 80th birthday and a free family venue for locals.
“You know what, I need to do more,” he said he told himself after a revelation from God at the family event. “Wherever God leads me, that’s where I’ll go.” From that event, Jackson said he felt a divine inspiration from God to do more and started to hold annual events focused on his family helping other families.
“I figure if people see families come together, that’ll help their families,” he said. The family event grew to more programs, including a youth council for teenagers in the housing project Jackson was raised in with his 10 siblings and parents. And in June 2008, he co-founded Operation Give Back Far Rockaway with Councilman James Sanders Jr. His siblings hold chairs on the operating board for the non-profit and share the bulk of the work with Jackson and Sanders. For the group, seeing people obtain a necessity is overwhelmingly rewarding.
The Jacksons also handed out toys to children in hospitals and a center during Christmas and focused on pushing for another clothing drive.
“We will have another clothing drive because this was such a success,” he said, as his family planned the next giveaway for January. “With Operation Give Back, we don’t want to give it back in one day.”